The CEO of Danone has called for additional taxes on unhealthy foods.
The CEO of one of the largest food companies in the UK has called for greater taxes on salty, fatty, and sugary meals.
According to James Mayer, who manages Danone in the UK and Irish Republic, food producers have not showed “enough appetite to change.”
The French company is most known for its yoghurt brands, but it also owns Evian and Volvic bottled water brands.
He claimed that the so-called “sin” levies would effect only 10% of Danone’s own products.
“The UK food industry’s efforts to improve the health profile of its products have not moved fast enough,” Mr Mayer said in comments first reported by the Observer.
He stated that “meaningful intervention” by the government was required.
“We see this as the only way the industry as a whole will be incentivized to move away from the often cheaper but unhealthy alternatives,” Mr Mayer added.
The United Kingdom implemented a “sugar tax” on soft drinks in 2018, but has rejected more recent plans to levy further charges on other unhealthy products, instead relying on manufacturers to participate in voluntary programs to decrease salt, fat, and sugar.
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Food prices have risen dramatically in the recent year, making it difficult to justify greater taxes.
However, Mr Mayer stated that the new strategy should involve advertising limits as well as “looking at how VAT rates can be aligned to the health credentials of products.”
Currently, most food products are exempt from VAT, however alcoholic beverages, confectionary, numerous crisps and savory snacks, ice cream, and soft drinks are subject to the usual 20% VAT rate.
Mineral water, which accounts for a sizable portion of Danone’s product selection, is likewise subject to VAT.
The food business has repeatedly fought against such levies, claiming that they will raise costs. However, supporters of the concept claim that tax revenue may be utilized to promote healthier eating habits.
According to a representative for the Department of Health and Social Care, the government has taken “firm action” to combat unhealthy foods and will continue to collaborate closely with industry.
“Our sugar reduction program has resulted in dramatic reductions in the amount of sugar in foods consumed by children, including a 14.9% decrease in the sugar content of breakfast cereals and a 13.5% decrease in the sugar content of yogurts and fromage frais,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.
The government implemented rules on where unhealthy goods can be exhibited in stores late last year, but deferred additional curbs on “volume” offers such as buy-one-get-one-free until autumn this year.
A prohibition on junk food advertising on television before 21:00 has been delayed until October 2025 to give the sector more time to prepare.
Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of the Leon fast-food chain and the government’s “tsar” for healthy eating, quit earlier this year, citing a lack of success.
His study from last year, which advocated measures such as tariffs on salt and sugar in processed foods, with the proceeds used to offer fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income families, was ignored by the administration.
Mr Mayer stated that Danone UK & Ireland had committed to keeping 90% of its product range below the level that counts as high in fat, salt, and sugar, and that no new products marketed to children would be launched in that category.